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Michelle Cooney

Methodist College, Belfast

Subject: English.

Age: 30.

Your place of birth: Lisburn.

Where You Live: Belfast.

First Job: Tesco shop assistant.

What it taught me: ‘Every little helps!’ Too cheesy?

Family/status: Married.

Best advice anyone ever gave you: My Head of Department wisely reminds us all to pace ourselves, saying that the teaching year is a marathon, not a sprint. This advice always helps me to remember the importance of balancing enthusiasm with realism.

Best advice you could give someone thinking of a teaching career: You’ll need a lot of patience, an abundance of energy and a good sense of humour if you are to get the best out of your students, and if they are to get the best out of you.


Michelle studied at Queen’s University, Belfast, completing a Joint BA in Spanish and English. As part of the Spanish course, she spent a year in Barcelona working as a language assistant in a secondary school. That experience working with young people helped her to decide on a career in teaching. She returned to Queen’s to complete a PGCE and upon graduating, she secured employment with Methody and has taught there for seven years.

“I have been given the opportunity to teach English, Spanish, Drama and assist with girls’ games,” she says. “I am currently the KS3 English Co-ordinator and I organise the Junior Debating Society. This year I was appointed Deputy Head of Form One.”

Michelle enjoys running, hiking, walking her dog and travelling with her husband, Simon. In March 2013, she will be embarking on a British Council job-shadowing opportunity in a school in Granada, Spain.

“I feel very honoured to be a part of the Blackboard Awards,” she adds. “I appreciate how privileged I am to work alongside such dedicated colleagues and am thankful for the opportunity my job gives me to teach such a diverse range of remarkable students.”